Non-elective surgery and outpatient diagnostics cancelled at Limerick Hospital

Phil Ni Sheaghdha
INMO secretary general Phil Ni Sheaghdha

RECORD high attendances at the University Hospital Limerick (UHL) emergency department has resulted in the cancellation of all non-elective surgery and outpatient diagnostics at the hospital.

“Anyone presenting at the emergency department today with a less urgent condition is going to face an exceptionally long wait for care and we are asking them to consider all available healthcare alternatives,” a UHL spokesman said.

UHL was the country’s most overcrowded hospital today, with 92 patients waiting for beds on trolleys in the emergency department  and wards, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association (INMO).

Nationally there were 760 hospital patients without a bed which the INMO said was the highest number of patents on trolleys in the past two years.

The nurses union said that since last summer it has been calling on the HSE and the Government to take extraordinary measures including the complete use of private hospitals and curtailment of non-elective care.

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“It is not too late to bring private hospitals on the pitch, this level of overcrowding is a danger to patients and staff, ” INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said.

The UHL spokesman said “the unprecedented levels of attendances at the emergency department was driven by a surge in patients with respiratory infections, including Covid-19, flu and RSV, along with significant numbers of people with trauma injuries resulting from slips and trips on the ice over recent days”.

Almost 500 people attended the UHL emergency department over the weekend, including  251 on Saturday and 221 on Sunday, the busiest weekend ever recorded at the hospital.

All 24-hour emergency services in Clare and North Tipperary were streamlined to UHL in 2009 but the hospital has been unable to cope with demand from the increased population catchment of 400,000.

Today UHL enacted an escalation plan to try to mitigate pressure on the hospital, including the redeployment of medical staff to the emergency department and the transfer of appropriate trauma patients to Croom Orthopaedic Hospital.

“We have been contacting all patients with surgery or diagnostics appointments scheduled for today, and these appointments will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity,” the UHL spokesman said.